Wines That Complement Salmon

Styles to Consider When Pairing Wine with Salmon

Style of Salmon

Wine Style

  • Seared salmon

  • Chilled Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

  • Smoked salmon

  • Blanc de blancs Champagne, English sparkling wine, Riesling, manzanilla Sherry

  • Herbs and citrus

  • Sauvignon Blanc

  • Sweet spice (ginger) or Miso

  • Pinot Gris, Riesling

  • Sushi

  • Sauvignon Blanc, especially Sancerre

Wine Pairing Tips from Experts

Salmon is a versatile fish, and the ideal wine pairing depends on its preparation and side dishes, according to Jolanta Dinnadge, the former head sommelier at Corrigan’s Mayfair.

While it’s a common belief that red wine doesn’t go well with fish, bold red wines with heavy tannins should be avoided. Full-bodied red wines overpower the flavors of both the fish and the wine itself, advises Dinnadge, now the group beverage manager of the Corrigan Collection.

Farmed Atlantic salmon, which is prevalent in the market, tends to have a fattier texture compared to its wild counterparts. For seared salmon, especially the farmed varieties, a chilled Pinot Noir is a popular choice, as it perfectly complements the fish’s richness and caramelized crust. Chardonnay is also worth considering.

When salmon is cooked with herbs and citrus, a classic Sauvignon Blanc with its minerality and herbaceous notes is an excellent match. If the salmon is accompanied by butter and cream, a Chardonnay with a hint of oak can bring out the flavors of the fish.

Pairing wine with spicy salmon dishes doesn’t have to be challenging. Nobu Shoreditch’s beverage director, Wilfried Rique, suggests German Riesling or Pinot Gris from Alsace to enhance the flavors of salmon with spices and the sweetness of miso sauce.

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For classic smoked salmon dishes with onion, capers, and lemon, Riesling is a great choice. Sparkling wines, especially blanc de blancs made with Chardonnay, also pair well with smoked salmon. Manzanilla Sherry is a unique but reliable option, according to wine expert Fiona Beckett.

When enjoying salmon sushi, a crisp and citrusy wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is recommended. Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, balances well with the acidity of the salmon and complements the bold flavors of the rice.

This article, originally published in 2019 and updated in May 2021, provides helpful tips for pairing wine with salmon.

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